Official: Oak Park building blaze burned for hour before it was reported

The Oak Park director of public safety estimates Tuesday's building fire burned for at least an hour before it was called in.

That resulted in precious lost time, which could have impacted the outcome - as some dreams went up in smoke.

"I was just angry to see something I had built from my basement up to this point go down in flames," said Christopher Huff, co-owner of Performance 80 Fitness Studio.
A fast moving, hot burning fire broke out in the building on Northend Avenue - not far from Coolidge. Determining a cause could take weeks. The first thing investigators have to do is make sure the building is safe for them to enter.

The raging fire which took crews up to three hours to contain. Firefighters stayed at the scene throughout the night.  Cinderblock and mortar blown were into the middle of the street.

Chris, co-owner of Performance 80, said his clients were there, they called for help. At 7:18 p.m. fire says the 911 call went out.

"We were in the middle of stretches, until a lot of people said smoke was coming in," he said. "The electric lines went and the building collapsed with me standing right there."

The large L-shaped building contained businesses with their own addresses, but connected. The fire apparently started in Fellers, a wrap supply company and the vinyl and paper inside likely fueling the flames.

"Anytime you get a roof collapse in buildings, you are talking about a total loss for a few of those (businesses) there," said Steve Cooper, Oak Park director of public safety. 

Huff's clients set up a GoFundMe to get his business back up and running.

"(We are) taking it all in stride, I've got the community behind me," Huff said. "I have to build it back up, because it is like a safe haven for the community."